A married woman becomes entangled in a drunken hookup with her colleague. A frantic medical patient believes he has been implanted with a microchip. An arguing couple gets stranded after a power outage at the airport.

Such complexities were not far-fetched throughout Are We At War Yet? at the Kogod Theatre at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, which ran from April 19 to 26.

Written by Russian playwright and 2024 Maya Brin Artist-in-Residence Mikhail Durnenkov and directed by Yury Urnov, the play explores a Russian narrative of war, highlighting the psychological effects propaganda has on individuals and families. With unexpected twists and looming conflicts, the play offered a tang of wit.

The play featured more than 10 different episodes. Each one had a new plot, characters and setting, marked by changing images on a display screen and shuffling of props during pauses in action. From costume to temperament changes, cast members embodied their new characters with ease.

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Mars Burggraf, a cast member and junior dance and theatre major, said the presence of the playwright and director during practices made for a flawless performance.

“Getting to speak with [Durnenkov] and with Yury, our director, about their own experiences in Russia and immigrating from Russia to various countries and eventually the U.S. was really informative and gave a really great perspective,” they said.

Many episodes involved characters who displayed madness and fear as a result of war. At times, the characters engaged with the audience and asked questions or signaled them to applaud to back up their actions, not realizing how absurd they acted or sounded.

Throughout the play, off-guard surveillance camera footage of audience members would occasionally be displayed on the display screen. The interactive element intensified the theme of paranoia.

While most episodes focused directly on the impacts of war, the last episode served as an allegory for the Russia-Ukraine war. It centered on an abusive husband accusing his wife of cheating on him with a neighbor. The husband and wife represented Russia and Ukraine, according to cast member and senior theatre major Cy Escalera.

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The final episode required much emotional effort from William Nash, a sophomore dance and theatre major who played the abusive husband representing Russia.

“To tap into that mentally is not the easiest thing for me to do,” Nash said. “I have to make sure I’m checking in with myself and checking in with my team partner, making sure I’m staying true to myself and also staying true to the character.”

The cast members charmed the audience with their humor-driven dialogue and monologues throughout the play, executing its message brilliantly. Through audience interactions and themes of surveillance, the play proved that audience members were also at war within themselves.

“War is not unique to Russia or Ukraine,” Escalera said. “Just because it seems so far away doesn’t mean you’re not [also] under these kinds of threats or deal with these kinds of lives.”